Tuesday, May 1, 2018

2018 Race Updates I

Lake Sammamish Half Marathon
March 10, 2018
Finish time 2:51:04
Pace 13:04mm

I was completely undertrained for this half marathon. My longest run leading up to race day was five miles! and I'd been sick off and on for about two weeks prior. So my goal was to finish in less time than my anti-PR (3:00:17), and to use this as motivation for training going forward.

Rattlesnake Ridge Half Marathon
April 28, 2018
Finish time 4:17:58
Pace 19:41mm

This was my first trail race ever. Most elevation ever. Slowest half marathon time ever. But I think trail runs have to go in a different category than a standard half marathon -- 3000+ feet of elevation in about four miles turns into much more of a hike than a run. I'm pretty pleased with the result and, while I don't know if I'll do trail races as an end in themselves, I can imagine they'll be great training and speed work for regular races. I'm sure there will be more of these in my future. I was just starting to get the hang of using the poles. And I want to be able to run more of the up, not just the flat and the down.

Upcoming races:
Fall City Days 5k, June 9
Evergreen 10k, August 19

The Blue Farmhouse

Early last year, living in a rented townhouse, searching daily for a home to buy, we happened across a pale blue house at the border between the suburbs and the country.

10625 206th St SE, Snohomish, WA 98296

It was built in 1980, or so we were told, although we have our suspicions that parts of the house were built earlier or maybe added on later. The house sat on nearly a full acre of land, with a closed shed, wood shed, and horse barn. Fruit trees and lilacs were on our wish list and this house had them. Four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, large garage, more than 2000sqft. Possible garden space, a fire pit, a woodstove, and room for the kids to run. Most importantly -- the reason we sold our previous home -- it was within 15 minutes of Vic's office and the kids' school.

The blue farmhouse, as we dubbed it, also had some definite oddities. When we pulled into the driveway, there was no obvious front door. The first floor was more hallway than rooms, the staircase was narrow, steep, and winding, there were multiple kinds of flooring from one room to the next, the wallpaper and linoleum were brown and orange,

10625 206th St SE, Snohomish, WA 98296

and there was a clown-covered light shade in one bedroom. From the second floor landing, you could hug the dated chandelier.

10625 206th St SE, Snohomish, WA 98296

The house also needed a lot of updating, and not just cosmetic. The previous owner was a Mr. Fix-It kinda guy, good at jury-rigging, but not so great at doing things to code.

We bought the house for list price which, in the current local market, was something of a miracle, then hired a contractor and started demolition on the interior. The major work was complete at the end of May and we moved in. (More before pics, and a bunch of after pics, to come in later posts.)

So here we are, one year after finding our blue farmhouse, and our project list is still huge! We finally decided to break it all down into individual tasks, write them on sticky notes, and organize them by room. The result is a little overwhelming, but also exciting. When the board is empty, Phase I of our remodel will be complete.

We have plans for Phase II, as the outside of the house has some serious issues that will need to be resolved in the next couple of years -- siding, roof, sheathing, insulation, deck, and yard. But in the meantime, eleven months after moving in, we are so thankful for our blue farmhouse. It is slowly but surely becoming home to us, and it's been so great to have a place where the kids can run and play and explore outside.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Time to Blog

I miss blogging. Short facebook updates are fun and easy to write, but I realized the other day that I miss blogging. The process of planning posts, mulling over what I want to say, writing, editing, shooting good photographs, and coming up with a strong title -- this requires more of me and gives me a lot of satisfaction (not to mention it's a better family archive than quick social media quips). It's been so long since I blogged that I couldn't remember any of my login information, but after several weeks of searching, here I am and chomping at the bit to continue recording my family's story.

Will there be posts to "catch up" on things from the last four or five years? I think so. The events are fresher in my memory now than they will be five years from now, so best to get them in writing before I forget them completely. But I'm also looking forward to keeping up with my family today and tomorrow. Miles and Grace are growing up. Vic and I are growing older. All of us are learning, changing, hopefully becoming daily more the people God created us to be.

Time to get blogging again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Big Hairy Goal

I'm not good with nebulous goals. I'm not sure that any of us are. Tell me to become a better cook, I have no idea how I'll know when I've succeeded. Tell me to master the techniques for duck l'orange, crab cakes, and chocolate souffle, and I can reach for that. If I wanted to set a goal of cleaning and organizing the house, I'd have to reword it as something like, "Sort through belongings, determine a set of criteria for what stays and what goes, find a home for each thing that stays, and clean each room from ceiling to floor." That goal has more meaning and will be more easily measured.

So six years ago, when Vic and I talked about getting in better shape, I knew that was a great idea and definitely something I needed to do, but I've never been very successful in the long term about health and fitness. "Get in shape" was always too vague. Hmm, what to set as a goal?

Complete a triathlon. Sounded daunting, but I knew a friend who had trained for, completed, and really enjoyed a sprint-distance triathlon, and I thought I might be able to work toward that. Two friends, and the friend of a friend, joined in the journey, and we all reached our goal less than a year later. The training was the real journey -- learning to swim crawl stroke, getting used to biking, starting to develop the leg strength and lung capacity for running. The actual race day was the reward. (Oh, and better fitness both then and during my subsequent pregnancies.)

Fast-forward two kids and four years later. Grace and Miles weren't babies anymore, I'd moved into my 40s, and it was time to consider a new goal for getting healthier and stronger. The variety involved in triathlon training had worked well for me before and I'd been surprised to find that I actually enjoyed the exercise (most of the time anyway -- you know, once I'd convinced myself to get up, put on whatever gear I needed, and get going). What would be my new, longer term fitness goal?


Ironman? The triathlon they show on TV once a year? The one where the winners take eight or nine hours and the people who barely drag themselves across the finish line do so in 16 hours and 59 minutes? The race that involves a total of 140.6 miles? Yep, that one. Although, to be clear, I should mention that they televise the World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, and the only way I'll get to that particular Ironman race is if I win a spot in their lottery, which is ridiculously unlikely. And in what world do you call it winning the lottery when your prize is paying a $700 entrance fee to exercise at your physical limit for up to 17 hours? But yes, the same distance as that one.

I suppose there are people who set a goal to complete an Ironman triathlon, train for it, and finish it all in one year. I'm not one of those people. About a year ago I decided on this goal, and immediately set about breaking it down into more manageable chunks. There are four common triathlon lengths, so I figure I'll work my way up through them as I get stronger:
  • sprint = 800 meter swim, 12-14 mile bicycle, 5k run
  • Olympic = 1500 meter swim, 25 mile bicycle, 10k run
  • half-iron = 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bicycle, 13.1 mile run
  • iron = 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bicycle, 26.2 mile run
This past summer saw me complete a sprint tri and an Olympic. The latter, I must admit, I spent the entire race in dead last until the final mile. I'm never going to win a race, and one of the things I love about triathlon is that the vast majority of us triathletes are out there doing races to compete with ourselves, do better than we did last time. But my set of goals for each race goes something like this: 1) I want to finish the race, 2) I want to not be last, and 3) I want to finish in a set time. So I've got a lot of training to do if I want to avoid a repeat of my near-dead-last performance.

Since registering recently for my main summer 2013 race -- Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens -- I've been working out a training schedule, freaking out, wondering if I've bitten off more than I can chew. But I'm going to do it. A half-iron triathlon. July 21, 2013, from 7:00am to whenever I finish in the afternoon.

Now you know, and now I have to do it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Miles and Grace Recommend...

As I stand here gazing across a living room that has a "just moved in" look -- blank walls, empty spaces, furniture in odd spots, boxes and bins of things -- while I am not fond of the feeling that brings, I have to be thankful for two strong, healthy kids with strong, curious minds.

The furniture is all out of place because Grace and Miles like to jump off chairs onto Grace's big red beanbag and, with hardwood floors, things slide.

The blank walls are completely my own fault. Three years later, I still cannot decide on a room arrangement and therefore a wall art arrangement.

The boxes and bins of things (and lots of things strewn about, not in bins or boxes) are entirely made up of toys and books. About every six months, I sort through all of the kids' stuff, donate any clothes, books, or toys they've outgrown (or which I simply cannot stand anymore), pull out anything I've been saving for which they're now old enough, and organize. As of this week, we officially have too many children's books. And we use the library often. Really often.

So as we sort books, I am coming across many that have been favorites and will not be donated. Here are just a few series we're loving lately.

by Cynthia Rylant / Mark Teague

The main porcine character in these books is funny, silly, a little stodgy, and really big. His friends are great too, especially his llama neighbor, Cherry Sue. We really like that there are three stories in each book.

by Tim Egan

In the first book, Dodsworth in New York, our hero decides to travel and find adventure. He and the stowaway duck travel to New York, Paris, London, and Rome (so far). We're earnestly hoping that the author will continue. These are great first "chapter books" -- just four chapters per story.

If You Give a...
by Laura Numeroff / Felicia Bond

I'm not even sure how many of these there are (8-10?) but these are storybooks we don't mind reading multiple times. Creative idea for showing cause and effect, along with fun interaction between the main animal characters and the children. The illustrations are wonderful and detailed, good for pointing out little things and asking questions for younger kids.

Someday I'd love to write a post called, "Melinda Recommends," but honestly I spend 80-90% of my reading time in kids' books. Both Grace and Miles are now in preschool two short mornings each week, so maybe I'll get to read grown-up books now...

Monday, April 16, 2012

In Project Mode - Spring Handbag

Another fun Pinterest find... turning a tank top into a hand bag.

I'm a pretty plain person, style-wise. When I look into my dresser or closet, I find a ton of solid black items, gray, brown, white, and navy. I wear the same two pairs of shoes for nearly every occasion, plus an extra pair for running. I have two black purses, a black jacket, and a charcoal gray winter coat. You get the idea. So when I saw the idea of turning a tank top into a purse, my first thought was something pretty plain. Imagine my surprise when I was drawn to this one:

It's definitely a radical departure from the norm for me, but I think that's part of its charm. I like the idea of brightening up an outfit with an accessory, and this one is decidedly brighter than anything else I own. I turned the tank sideways, tucked up the lining to use as pockets, trimmed off a few inches, and sewed the bottom closed. (It took longer than I expected, but really was simple.)  For $4, an hour or two, and some creative energy, this was the end result. I love it!

Friday, March 23, 2012

In Project Mode - Magnetic Letters

I'm a list person. Always have been. The number of to-do lists in my notebooks, calendars, computers, and cell phones over the years has to be in the thousands. (Some of you will understand the depth of my listmania when I say that I write completed projects on the list simply so I can cross them off.)

Months ago a friend told me about pinterest.com and mentioned that it was addictive and time-consuming. I took a look, thought it was a fun idea, but didn't get into using it much. Then, last week, for some reason I took a look again and am now beginning to understand my friend's comment. If you peruse various design, craft, household, or sewing boards, your project list could begin to increase in length exponentially. Thankfully, I've also read several blogs lately which have been encouraging me to stop worrying about the length of my project lists and to start by choosing one thing and accomplishing it. Today, I choose a magnetic letter board for Miles.

Miles knows his letters and the sounds they make, but is a scary home decorator with crayons or pens. How to let him play with touching letters and manipulating them without having a new and undesired mural on our living room wall? A magnetic letter board. Our fridge will not hold magnets so I had to come up with another option. Pinterest brought up an idea and, since I had all the components, I decided to try it.

Ancient IKEA tart pan (used as a cookie sheet for 6-8 years) + SOS pad + charcoal gray Rustoleum spray paint (a bright color would be more fun but that's what I had)....


a magnetic letter board! For now, I think we'll use it as a tray on our laps until we decide where to hang it. If we're willing for a letter or two to be lost, it might even work as an on-the-go toy to keep in the van.

I'm in project mode, so stay tuned.